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Weather Challenges Crow Peak Fire Crews

June 26, 2012, 6:05 PM by Derek Olson

Weather Challenges Crow Peak Fire Crews
SPEARFISH, SD -

Firefighters in the Black Hills that are trying to knock out the Crow Peak Fire are battling back flames and 100-degree heat.  The fire about three-miles southwest of Spearfish has grown to about 100 acres and is 25 percent contained.

"We did get at least a half-inch of precipitation on most areas of the fire last night, which changed things quite a bit for us.  Obviously, it helped us out," incident commander Brian Daunt said.

But as helpful as it was Monday night, Tuesday's weather is causing new challenges for fire crews.

"This is kind of the perfect storm for heat-related injuries.  It's very strenuous work in very difficult conditions.  In addition, you have the radiant heat from the fire to deal with as well," Daunt said.

"Given our current weather conditions, our biggest concern today is making sure that they stay hydrated," safety officer Jim Allen said.

That can be a monumental task for firefighters who are supposed to drink at least two bottles of water every hour to stay safe.

"A person working in these conditions should consume one or two quarts of water per hour," Allen said.

And with around 160 firefighters working the blaze, getting them the water they need is not an easy task.

"All the water has to be hauled in by hand, so there's a lot of support that goes on in the background to keep the folks at the front of the line hydrated," dozer boss Jake Jackson said.

This is important because even though the fire's intensity is down, Tuesday's heat and wind means it won't take much for it to get out of hand again.

"We're nervous today, there's no doubt about it, but optimistically nervous I guess," Allen said.

Two additional hand crews arrived at Crow Peak Tuesday.  It's another reason why officials are optimistic that they may be able to contain the blaze in spite of the volatile conditions.

Get the latest on the Crow Peak fire from the Incident Information System.

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